Energy affordability remains a top priority for Pennsylvania voters leading up to the November elections, according to a new survey from the Commonwealth Foundation.

In a poll of 800 registered voters conducted between February 28 and March 6, more than four in five respondents (81 percent) were concerned about the future availability of affordable energy in the United States, while just shy of the same number (79 percent) shared the same concern in the Commonwealth.

While the Biden administration has touted its efforts in reducing inflation and creating jobs, the Keystone State respondents expressed their concerns about kitchen-table issues such as their families’ energy needs.

Eighty percent of those surveyed said that their household energy bills have increased over the past two years, while fifteen percent indicated that they had remained the same. Just one percent, or eleven out of 800, stated that their energy bill had decreased.

Many mentioned that they had begun making lifestyle changes to protect the environment, including turning off lights, appliances and electronics when not in use (64 percent), using reusable shopping bags (58 percent), and lowering the heating thermostat during the winter (54 percent). Just thirteen percent stated that they had started biking or walking instead of driving a gas-powered vehicle, while only one in ten said they were taking public transportation instead of driving.

“Pennsylvania voters have made clear they prioritize energy affordability and reliability over climate alarmism and extreme environmental policies,” said André Béliveau, Commonwealth Foundation’s Senior Manager of Energy Policy. “Likewise, Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly support economic freedom and oppose excessive government regulations and red tape. They support a resurgence in American energy dominance and overwhelmingly oppose RGGI and similar policies. Governor Shapiro would do well to listen to everyday Pennsylvanians, not the bought and paid-for green lobby activists in Harrisburg and Washington, DC.”

When posed the question which presidential candidate would do the best job of making energy more affordable for Americans, former President Donald Trump received the nod from 37 percent of respondents, while current President Joe Biden pulled in 34 percent. Fifteen percent said they did not know enough to say.

When focusing on the Keystone State, just over one in three (34 percent) said that things in Pennsylvania are going in the right direction, as opposed to nearly half (48 percent) that stated the Commonwealth had “pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track.” Yet, among those 65 and over, the gap shrank from -14 to –2 (41 percent to 43 percent), while among non-white males, the totals are reversed with 57 percent of those identifying stating Pennsylvania is on the right track to just 32 percent saying the opposite.

Nearly two in three (63 percent) said that rising energy costs were the most pressing issue facing Pennsylvania, while just over one in four (26 percent) wanted to ensure energy grid reliability and modernization to prevent blackouts.

The survey posed a question about the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) on the questionnaire, stating that Gov. Josh Shapiro “promised to work with Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature to reconsider the state’s participation in RGGI, which would increase energy prices for Pennsylvanians.”

RGGI is a cooperative effort among eleven Eastern states to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants within each participating state. The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court deemed RGGI unconstitutional, labeling it an “illegal tax,” and blocked the state’s participation. Shapiro has decided to appeal the court ruling.

When asked if “you support RGGI, a program that would impose a new energy tax,” only 22 percent support participating, while 54 percent oppose. Not surprisingly, nearly one quarter of the respondents (24 percent) said they were undecided or not sure.

“We are confident that RGGI is the best and the only alternative to create energy jobs, take real action to address climate change, and ensure reliable, affordable power for consumers in the long term,” replied The Clean Power PA Coalition in a statement. “But we also want to work with the governor, organized labor groups, and consumer advocates to determine if the governor’s PACER (Pennsylvania Climate Emissions Reduction) alternative to RGGI can produce the same benefits.

“Pennsylvanians want action. It is time for those in the legislature who continue standing in the way to either allow RGGI to move forward or come to the table to enact a plan like PACER. We agree with the governor: inaction is not an option.”

Twenty-seven percent would support a law requiring Pennsylvania electricity suppliers to increase the use of alternative energy from eight percent to 30 percent by 2030, even if it leads to higher energy costs for consumers. Forty-four percent would oppose such a move, while 29 percent were undecided.

Those surveyed would back tax breaks that promote the installation of renewable energy (i.e. solar) or to promote the purchase of electric vehicles by 72 percent and 53 percent numbers.

The Pennsylvania Statewide Survey was conducted from February 28 to March 6 and interviewed 800 registered voters. The poll had a credibility interval of +/- 3.9 percent.

Steve Ulrich is the managing editor of PoliticsPA.

This article was originally published in PoliticsPA.

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